Christmas trees, presents and a whole lot of cardboard gingerbread people.
That’s what cute critters at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park got their claws on and noses into this last weekend during the park’s annual Winter Wildland event.
Despite the colder temperatures, families set out on the paved courses to see Pacific Northwest animals — including grizzly bears, snow owls, wolverines, badgers and gray wolves — nuzzle up to holiday fixtures crafted by park staff.
One pair of wolverines, named Ahma and Rainier, gallivanted about Saturday morning in the cool air. Rainier, a curious 10-year-old male, nuzzled up next to a gingerbread woman on a log to chomp on some frozen balloon spheres.
Tessa LaVergne, media relations and communications coordinator with the park and Metro Parks Tacoma, said while the weather might be on the chilier side for humans, it’s actually quite comfortable for the native species.
“For these animals, they’re Northwest natives. They like the overcast, so they’ll come out more,” LaVergne said.
Staff installed holiday fixtures in many different habitat dens throughout the park. LaVergne said the holiday enrichment fixtures are great for the animals because they can interact, chew and play with them.
One of the more crowded dens to see fixtures and animals was at the grizzly bear displays, where two grizzly cubs, Hawthorne and Huckleberry, played with and chewed on a giant Christmas Tree donated by Cox Christmas Tree Farm in nearby Eatonville.
“The grizzly bears love to rub on the Christmas Trees,” LaVergne said.
While Winter Wildland marked the end of both the end of the year and busy season for Northwest Trek, the park is open during the winter and there’s still plenty of wildlife to see and plenty to do.
Roosevelt elk, bison and black-tailed deer, among others, can be seen on the park’s tram tour. There’s also more than 2 miles of natural trail for outdoor enthusiasts to get lost in.
LaVergne said it’s a great time to come to the park because it’s not their busy season and it’s cool, so more animals will come out and play.
She said the park is usually busy around springtime, when calves are born in the park.
Learn more at www.nwtrek.org/.